Spring officially arrives today, March 20th. (It does seem warmer, so we can thank god for that!) And what better way to celebrate the start of the new season than with a citywide macaron crawl? After all, it is Macaron Day.
Whether you’ve never tasted a macaron in your life or are a devotee of the colorful, round meringue-based treats, now is your chance to try some of the very best macarons New York has to offer. All you need to do is show up at one of the 15 bakeries, offering free samples of their pastel pastries throughout the day and claim your macaron. The celebration is timed to coincide with the original Jour du Macaron in Paris. Pierre Hermé conceived the ingenious idea nine years ago, and in 2010, the legendary Francois Payard (FP Patisserie, Francois Payard Bakery) first introduced Macaron Day to New York City. “I think macarons have seen such a huge surge in popularity over the last few years because they are so versatile. Everyone is trying to bring their own twist and create new flavors,” chef Payard tells us.
For anyone unfamiliar with the tasty delicacies, macaron master, Francois Payard, who produces about 12,000 hand-piped macarons every day, describes the macaron as “the most elegant cookie. It’s delicate, crunchy and soft with two meringue shells sandwiching a creamy ganache or filling.” At Payard, you can expect to find classics, like Vanilla, Pistachio, Raspberry, Chocolate, and their most popular flavor, Salted Caramel. Lest we forget Payard’s flavor this month, which is Orange Blossom, a Mandarin and Orange Water Macaron.
Cecile Cannone, pastry chef and co-owner of MacarOn Café in midtown, says, “Macarons should feel like two bites of heaven, one where you find a good balance between the filling and the shell, a real almond flavor in the shell and not too sugary.” Their exotic array of flavors include Matcha Chestnut, Jasmin, Nutella and Raisin Rum, and Violet flower. While Mariana Delgado Gambini, owner of Chantilly Pâtisserie in Bronxville, believes the perfect French macaron, “should be an amazing combination of a crunchy top, followed by a chewy center and finished with an outstanding filling that doesn’t overpower the greatness of the macaron shell.” On Macaron day, they’ll be celebrating with complimentary (yes, free!) ‘Funfetti’ macarons, but customers can still purchase macarons from their regular assortment of flavors, like Pistachio, Chocolate, Dulce de Leche, Banana, Strawberry, Hazelnut & Vanilla.
Over at Bisous Ciao, their focus is top notch ingredients, such as Valrhona Chocolate and Tahitian vanilla, with a variety of fillings including chocolate ganache, buttercream, and jams. “We bake the macarons fresh everyday and never freeze any of them, says Warzee. “You should be able to tell the flavor of a macaron by just tasting it with your eyes closed.” For Macaron day, Bisous Ciao will be offering a preview of their spring collection, which includes Wild Blackberry, Blood Orange, and Passion Fruit. And this spring, they’ll also be bringing back their popular Thai Tea flavor and launching a new Black Sesame version.
Looking for a French-American hybrid? Get yourself to Macaron Parlor. “We have a fun American twist to our macarons,” says owner Simon Tung. “We translate things we ate growing up and we like to use other nuts in our shells such as Pistachio and Hazelnut. In addition to their long-standing favorites, such as Lemon, Pistachio and Caramel, they serve more unusual flavors, the likes of Cheetos, Candied Bacon with Maple Cream Cheese, Rosemary Olive Oil and Honey & Cognac.
A portion of all proceeds from the participating bakeries are being donated to City Harvest , but you can get the full download on who’s participating in this delicious day at www.macarondaynyc.com.